Earthquake in Nepal
April 25, 2015 11:15 AM   Subscribe

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 has hit Nepal, killing over 1,000 people. The epicenter was just outside Kathmandu, but the effects have been felt as far away as Tibet, Bangladesh, and India. Regular updates at The Guardian.
posted by lunasol (78 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
I have coworkers in Nepal and Bangladesh. They are safe, but family and friends are not. Facebook implemented a very useful tool Safety Check which allows people to confirm the safety of friends, so that was great. But pretty awful stuff.
posted by Nevin at 11:19 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by Going To Maine at 11:20 AM on April 25, 2015

Death toll is now over 1200 as of 2:30 EST. Awful. Just. Awful.
posted by Seekerofsplendor at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by limeonaire at 11:29 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by kewb at 11:37 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by Renoroc at 11:39 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by YAMWAK at 11:43 AM on April 25, 2015

posted by Navelgazer at 11:44 AM on April 25, 2015


posted by dismas at 11:51 AM on April 25, 2015

In Focus: Nepal after the Earthquake (some photos are graphic)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:03 PM on April 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by JoeXIII007 at 12:04 PM on April 25, 2015

I knew it was going to be a bad one the moment I saw the notification from my earthquake tracker last night. What do you build with if you don't have many trees, either to build with or to burn to bake bricks? Mud brick. And mud brick turns into a pile of dirt in a long shake like that.
posted by tavella at 12:04 PM on April 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

I spent an amazing 2 months in Nepal 14 years ago. I went for the Himalayas, but fell in love with the Kathmandu Valley, the dozens of towns and villages, each with its own amazing cultural sites and friendly people. Kathmandu has been a crossroads between India, Tibet, and China for millennia, which makes for a really rich and unique cultural mix.

So much of that heritage has been wiped out by this quake. This is Patan Durbar Square, before and after. Devastating.
posted by lunasol at 12:16 PM on April 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

The news and images are really sad. I know a few people from Nepal, and I hope their families are ok.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:33 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by Songdog at 12:38 PM on April 25, 2015

For any interested in helping with the digital disaster relief effort, please go here and consider donating a little time.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 12:42 PM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Lots of seismic activity this week. Volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. The earth is brutal at times.

posted by Fizz at 12:53 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by miss tea at 1:15 PM on April 25, 2015

Family says that Google engineer Dan Fredinburg died on Everest after the earthquake. He had been posting about his climb on Instagram.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:19 PM on April 25, 2015

Thanks for the post, lunasol - I woke up at about 5 am and was puttering around on Twitter, shocked to see on-the-ground breaking reports. I've been following on Twitter and was thinking of making a post. Hope you don't mind if I add some links.

“Our Nightmare Scenario,” Says UN Official
"In 2013, I spoke with Jo Scheuer of the United Nations Development Program. He is an expert in disaster risk reduction so I asked him what disaster scenario keeps him up at night? Without hesitating he said that an earthquake in Katmandu Valley could bring death and destruction even worse than the Haiti earthquake. "

USGS on estimated fatalities and damages

Google’s SMS person finder is up: India: +91-9773300000
US: +1-650-800-3978

People on the ground who are posting to Twitter
Siobhan Heanue, Journalist & presenter for ABC News Australia. She was out walking around taking pictures and had to run for her life. She shows some photos an hour apart.

Blogger @salokya


Dave Petley, academic who studies landslides

@reportedly - a newer independent news agency that is worth following on this and other stories
posted by madamjujujive at 1:29 PM on April 25, 2015 [14 favorites]

8-18 are dead on Everest. Possibly many more. Avalanche went through base camp, which houses hundreds. Many are stranded above the Khumbu Icefall.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:43 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by maggiemaggie at 1:44 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by Foosnark at 1:44 PM on April 25, 2015

Recent Everest story.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:47 PM on April 25, 2015

Reports out of Everest Base Camp are sketchy. So far this seems clear: there is significant damage there. There are at least several dead, and many missing.
posted by persona au gratin at 1:54 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by meowf at 2:07 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by bettafish at 2:11 PM on April 25, 2015

Anyone have information about the best relief organizations operating in Nepal?
posted by mykescipark at 2:11 PM on April 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks, madamjujujive. I was thinking I should fill out my post with more links and context but I just kept finding the same vague info everywhere I looked. And digging kept turning up photos of places I've been, which was hard. Much appreciated.
posted by lunasol at 2:15 PM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mykescipark, these came from a (American) friend-of-a-friend living in Nepal:

Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund on Global Giving

Karuna Shechen

A Nepali friend who lives here in the States is trying to find some locally-recommended orgs.
posted by lunasol at 2:17 PM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Good grief, just this week the Today Show had a segment on an American woman who's been training for seven years to make an attempt on Everest without supplemental oxygen. She said that the camp past Base Camp was opening up and they were getting ready to move out in the next few days.

Bless all those poor people, survivors and victims alike.
posted by wenestvedt at 2:19 PM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

Mkescipark and lunasol (and all), thank you for sharing the GlobalGiving Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. I'm usually a metafilter lurker but I'll out myself to say that I work at GlobalGiving and will be happy to share more information about the how our relief funds operate either in this thread or over memail (and email if necessary).

This blog post is old but is still representative about how we think about and approach disaster work. Since the 2004 tsunami and the Japan earthquakes, we've set up and deployed funds to assist in other crises, most recently to support Ebola response and prevention.

The tl;dr is we believe in prioritizing support to local NGOs to respond to emergencies in their communities; fund donations will also support long term recovery and reconstruction efforts in addition to immediate disaster relief.
posted by kitkatcathy at 2:35 PM on April 25, 2015 [16 favorites]

wenestvedt, Melissa Arnot is safe.
posted by adiabat at 3:00 PM on April 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

posted by allthinky at 3:03 PM on April 25, 2015

There is an Open Street Map crowd-mapping operation underway to develop accurate basemap info for disaster relief and assessment:

This job is to support the OSM Nepal community in digitizing all building footprints in the Kathmandu Valley. Your work will enable an exposure survey to capture structural data and develop an asset inventory that will ascertain the Valley’s exposure to earthquake risk.

Full instructions are provided at the link.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:08 PM on April 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

My work's branch office in Kathmandu is standing and all our colleagues are OK, though two had minor injuries (one was riding a motorcycle when the quake hit, so it's lucky he wasn't hurt worse). They're all sleeping outside in open fields for fear of aftershocks.

We're worried about our clients - we're a legal aid nonprofit - because there are rumors that people may have died in the central jail.
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:17 PM on April 25, 2015

I would not be surprised if this disaster means the permanent closure of Everest. With all the issues with sherpas, trash, and rescue logistics, it's seemed already on the cusp of such a decision.

It's also disheartening to see the destruction of so much cultural inventory. Obviously, though, this takes second place to the loss of lives and the privation that is sure to follow for survivors. The weather looks just warm enough for some to be in short-sleeved shirts, but probably bone-chilling at night.
posted by dhartung at 3:38 PM on April 25, 2015

Some more links for those following the story.

The Himalayan Times published in black and white today (Sunday) and includes many pictures of the aftermath of the earthquake.

Times of India coverage here including 'Another crisis will hit Nepal capital today – sanitation’ and Experts gathered in Nepal a week ago to ready for earthquake
posted by roolya_boolya at 4:20 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by roolya_boolya at 4:20 PM on April 25, 2015

I spent three weeks last year shooting in Nepal for the NGO Child Welfare Scheme in Kathmandu, Pokhara and the mountain villages in the foothills of the Himalayas. Amazing place and amazing people. Thankfully I found out not too long ago that the CWS team was ok. But I spent my last day there shooting around Durbar Square and now I look at the pictures wondering if any of the wonderful people I met are now dead. Such an awful tragedy.
posted by chris24 at 4:22 PM on April 25, 2015

posted by Canageek at 4:45 PM on April 25, 2015

Just so, so sad. Rebecca Solnit, whom I admittedly adore, posted this response on Facebook (with permission to share):

May casualties be minimal. May rescues be swift and effective. May people be allowed the agency to take care of themselves and others and organize what comes next, as they so often have so beautifully in disasters around the world (when allowed agency). May governments and officials do their best, trust their people in the disaster areas, not exploit the disaster for power plays, and may foreign aid and loans not be warped from relief into debt. May generous aid appear. May there be flourishing disaster anti-capitalism, not disaster capitalism (both often appear, the former widely more than the latter.)

Even if all that happens as well as it possibly can, it's still terrible.

Here in San Francisco we know it will be our turn again, probably before long.

posted by trip and a half at 4:46 PM on April 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would not be surprised if this disaster means the permanent closure of Everest. With all the issues with sherpas, trash, and rescue logistics, it's seemed already on the cusp of such a decision.

Everest tourism (both climbers and people just trekking up to base camp) is a huge moneymaker for Nepal. I'm more worried that between the avalanche last year, and the earthquake/avalanche this year, people are going to stop wanting to climb that side of the mountain and it's going to be an additional financial strain.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 4:48 PM on April 25, 2015

. * 1300.

I have a friend doing fieldwork on suicide in Nepal right now. Fortunately she was leaving Jumla on her way back to Kathmandu this morning; if it had been a few hours later, who knows what would have happened.

So sad to imagine all the people who are gone, all the families missing fathers or mothers or brothers or sisters or cousins. My biggest fear isn't aftershocks; it's rampant opportunistic disease after the destruction of sanitation and other infrastructure.

Fortunately, well kind of anyway, Nepal has had endemic cholera for a long time, so there's some level of immunity through exposure. For cholera at least we hopefully won't see a repeat of the devastation in Haiti after the 2010 quake (which was so horrible partially because Haiti had a virgin population.) Small comfort though.
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2015

Not to diminish anyone's feelings, concerns, or human value, but there are 2.5 million people in the Kathmandu Valley. The losses on Everest are a tiny fraction of this disaster. Everest tourism is 4% of the GDP - the effects of this earthquake on Nepal and its economy are much more widespread than just the impact on the 2015 climbing season or even the future of Everest tourism, and I think it is important to keep that in perspective when we talk about it.
posted by gingerest at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2015 [21 favorites]

WidgetAlley: The cholera epidemic in Haiti was reportedly caused by UN workers from Nepal. But the fact that it's endemic doesn't mean that many more people won't get it, especially if the power and sewage are offline for more than a few days. And many people in Kathmandu are really poor and didn't have access to clean water before this earthquake. There will be a lot more in that situation, and there will be fewer leftovers passing down the supply chain; not just water, but food, fuel, and all the other necessities.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:45 PM on April 25, 2015

Update on my previous comment: the page showing specific GlobalGiving partner organizations responding to the Nepal earthquake is now up.

This page will be updated over the next few days and weeks as more of our partners mobilize and post projects. It also allows you to donate to a specific organization/ project rather than, or perhaps in addition to, the general Nepal Relief Fund.

All the organization have been vetted as genuine organizations that have a track record of delivering positive social impact. They will provide donors with ongoing updates about the impact of your donation through reports on their project pages (which are also emailed directly to donors)
posted by kitkatcathy at 7:24 PM on April 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

You may have seen my friend Jon on the news, apparently...he wound up spending the night on the sofa of a random hotel. I'd been following his trip via social media and thinking about digging up my photos from my visit there in college. Now I just wonder if any of those landmarks are still there, since apparently many well-known buildings collapsed.

More important, of course, is the lives of the people there. Here's a PRI story with 7 "vetted charities" doing relief work in Nepal following the quake. (But I'm going to go check out the GlobalGiving page; thank you, kitkatcathy.)
posted by wintersweet at 8:15 PM on April 25, 2015

. (too many ...)
posted by Rabarberofficer at 8:34 PM on April 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Joe in Australia, the cholera in Haiti was actually confirmed to be from Nepalese UN workers and a leaking latrine in Mirebalais, but that's tangential to the point I was attempting to make (apparently not very clearly.) My point was that several news outlets have already raised the spectre of a cholera outbreak on the scale of Haiti in the aftermath of the quake in Nepal: I'm saying that, due to the way exposures and outbreaks work, that's unlikely to happen for a number of reasons. The first is that virgin populations are much more susceptible than endemic regions (which is not to say that regions with endemic cholera don't suffer just as much-- they do, they just do it over a much longer span of time and without the record-shattering type of outbreak that we saw in Haiti.) There's other factors at work as well: the best research facility for cholera in the world is right next door; it's the dry season in Nepal at the moment; any remaining public health infrastructure will be on the lookout for cholera because they already know it's a problem; and populations who are familiar with a disease tend to be much better at self-managing insofar as possible, which ups survival rates (see, for instance, the self-administration of oral rehydration therapy in Bangladesh.)

I'm not minimizing the risk from diarrheal disease post-earthquake in Nepal, or the infrastructure damage, or the heightened exposure to cholera. It's still huge. And of course there's all kinds of other concerns: the ease with which transmissible diseases such as influenza and meningitis move around crowded post-disaster camps, as well as other water-borne illnesses. I'm just saying that here, for once, weirdly, we can kind of be glad that Nepal has dealt with cholera before.
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:37 PM on April 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Jesus. I kinda had never thought about mountains being affected by earthquakes since mountains are so, you know, immovable.

Yeah, mountains and vertical terrain are probably more at risk during a quake than any given flatter terrain.

Anecdotal: A friend was at a desert/canyon jam band or party kind of thing when the Landers quake happened in California. He described the scene as having to suddenly dodge dislodged boulders and rocks and a not small amount of shifting landslide/spills, and that stuff kept coming down sporadically long after the shaking stopped as things started kept settling and shifting.

If I'm recalling correctly no one got smashed, but a number of cars were damaged and/or even totaled as boulders crashed into them in the base of the canyon.

Ever since that story I'm just as situationally quake-aware in rocky areas as I am in, say, a warehouse or grocery store or other places. IE: What's above me? Where is shelter? Where are the exits?
posted by loquacious at 9:03 PM on April 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Some other stuff if you're in a position to help:

Nepal Quake Relief.
posted by trip and a half at 10:27 PM on April 25, 2015

Today, we are all Nepali. आज, हामी सबै नेपाली हो।

posted by phoebus at 12:31 AM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

One thing I'm really worried about is that the epicenter was in a mountainous area. Most villages in that area are not connected on roads - they are reached by footpaths. I've seen aerial photos of villages entirely flattened and I can't imagine how difficult it is to provide relief to places that can only be reached by helicopter (many cannot be reached by even small planes, as the terrain is steep - not a lot of flat fields to land in).

posted by lunasol at 11:04 AM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was an aftershock that caused more avalanches in base camp at Everest. It looks like 18 is now the floor for dead there. Part of the issue is that base camp has many trekkers who won't go any higher than base camp. They often aren't connected to larger mountaineering expeditions. Dozens are stuck above the Khumbu icefall, and are trying to make their way back down through it. But the avalanches destroyed the fixed ropes and ladders. So far, it looks like, like last year, most of the dead are Sherpa.

Very very sad.
posted by persona au gratin at 12:38 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by hydropsyche at 1:32 PM on April 26, 2015

This terrifying video appears to show an avalanche hitting one of the Everest camps. (alert - much swearing if you are at work) Via Outside.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:56 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

That video is terrifying. It was foggy/snowy, so you couldn't see the avalanche coming.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:08 PM on April 26, 2015

Please don't give through GlobalGiving. They take an administrative cut of 15%, and are not particularly transparent in working with "partner organizations". Please give directly to your charity of choice.
posted by kimdog at 4:56 PM on April 26, 2015 [3 favorites]

Hi kimdog,

Thanks for highlighting the issue of fees versus direct donations. It's absolutely important for donors to be conscious of how their donations are being used.

GlobalGiving's administrative costs are actually closer to 3% which you can see on our Charity Navigator profile. Only a small fraction of the 15% fee goes towards our own administrative costs. The rest go towards credit card transaction fees and mostly towards programs and services we provide for nonprofits, which includes vetting which allows us to tell donors that the projects and organizations we support are legitimate and do good work in their communities.

This page shows the full breakdown of our fee and on the donation checkout page, we always inform the donor that they have the option to add-on an additional sum (or not) to their donation in order to cover the fee.

As always, if you have more questions about GlobalGiving please let me know either in this thread or over memail. We strongly believe in transparency and open communication and would love to have a chat about concerns you have about the way we work with our partners. And thank you for reminding everyone to be conscious about where their donation dollars are going and how they are being used!
posted by kitkatcathy at 7:04 PM on April 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

Mod note: I realize everybody has good intentions here, but let's leave it at that and not derail onto the pros and cons of GlobalGiving. Thanks.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:18 PM on April 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nepal After the Earthquake, from Slate. Warning: some photos show casualties.

Incidentally, does anyone know how the Nepali government plans to deal with two thousand corpses? Can traditional cremation techniques handle that much?
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:04 PM on April 26, 2015

Nepal police said in a statement that the country's death toll had risen to 3,617 people.

from Yahoo's report Quake-aid need acute in Nepal capital, more so in villages
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 AM on April 27, 2015

> Video of the avalanche that hit the Everest Base Camp, from a gopro worn by a climber.

posted by rtha at 5:40 AM on April 27, 2015

Nepal drone reveals extent of earthquake devastation
Landmarks I recognise: the temple at the start is Swayambhunath, then we see the stump of the Dharahara tower, then ... Durbar Square? It's been a while.

This video appears to have been shot just before the earthquake and continues part of the way through it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:43 PM on April 27, 2015

My colleagues have been emailing us updates.

"I am living in a tent with my family. We've faced rain, storms, and over 100 aftershocks. Last night we chased away thieves. Poor internet. No electricity. No ATMs and banks. Life is tough, we are struggling, but we are optimistic. I don't know when I'll get to use internet again. Keep us updated [main office]."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Nepal death toll tops 5,000 as rescuers reach hard-hit rural areas

Nepal field hospital, Israel’s largest ever, set to open Wednesday

It's worth noting that this hospital will have "60 beds and the capacity to treat at least 200 people per day". There are reportedly thousands of injured people, plus all the people that would normally be hospitalised for other things, plus people that need dialysis and so forth (although I presume this hospital will only be doing emergency care). So it's great that they're doing this, but anything an individual country can do will be insufficient: there should really be an international response force with equipment ready to go.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:28 PM on April 28, 2015

You can help Nepal's rescue efforts by mapping. Here's how.
Something you can do, for free, from your own computer.
posted by adamvasco at 5:10 PM on April 29, 2015 [3 favorites]

That Open Street Map humanitarian project was of enormous help during the Ebola outbreak, when volunteers were mapping the informal communities, alleys, and "favelas" of affected cities, so healthcare workers had up-to-date, accurate maps for going door to door. Its actually a pretty amazing project.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:49 PM on April 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

This tragedy continues to unfold, it's just the early stages of relief. I wanted to point out a terrific relief organization that is doing great things in remote areas of Nepal - I know, because my niece previously volunteered on a medical team with them: Himalayan Healthcare, also on Twitter. They are out on the front lines of relief efforts now.
posted by madamjujujive at 9:25 AM on May 1, 2015

Well, crap.

The Guardian link.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:53 AM on May 12, 2015

Oh my god, that's horrible. So sorry to hear that.
posted by en forme de poire at 4:56 PM on May 15, 2015

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